Wisconsin man came to study and ski, stayed to teach
December 12, 2014
Steve Kanten, a 30-year Park City resident, learned to ski when he was 8 years old. Growing up in rural Wisconsin, it was the thing to do. His parents bought him a lesson at a tiny ski hill near town and he took to the sport immediately. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
There were challenges along the way and Kanten rose to them. "After that first lesson, my father said if I wanted to ski I’d have to figure out a way to pay for it. I found out there was a 50-cent bounty on gophers because livestock would step into their holes and break their legs. So I learned how to set up a trap line and became a bounty hunter. For the next six years I earned enough money every year to buy a season pass at the local resort, new skis and equipment."
Kanten moved with his family to Minneapolis/St. Paul when he was 15 years old. By age 18, he was a member of the National Ski Patrol and the Professional Ski Instructors of America. After high school he attended the University of Minnesota. It was the first phase of an educational odyssey that led him from Minnesota to California and eventually to Utah and the University of Utah, where he earned a doctorate degree in sports psychology in 1984. Along the way he worked as a ski instructor at Holiday Hill, a small resort near Big Bear in Southern California, and at Alta.
Kanten’s other interests contributed to his lengthy educational pursuit. An avid motorcyclist and fly fisherman, he combined the two in the late 1970s when he embarked on a 17,000 mile motorcycle ride circumnavigating the United States. "I rode all the way up the West Coast, across Canada, down the East Coast and back to California. I camped and fished all along the way," he says. Kanten also enjoys both road and mountain biking. In 1975, he rode his vintage 10-speed road bike from Sun Valley to San Diego, and in 2009 completed a two-week bicycle/fishing trip in Costa Rica.
While working toward his doctorate, at the U of U, Kanten took a teaching assistant post as director of the university’s ski instructor program. While there he trained about 200 instructors a year.
After college, Kanten faced yet another challenge. "When I got my Ph.D., I had three potential job tracks ahead of me: university faculty, private practice or an offer to work for Franklin Covey. As a lifelong teacher, I enjoyed the corporate work most and found it most fulfilling," he says.
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In 1990, Kanten "went independent" and formed Kanten Communications International (KCI) Training, http://www.KCItraining.com, a consulting group that specializes in one- to three-day seminars on presentation, writing and conflict-management skills for Fortune 500 companies. "I work personally with technical, management and sales groups and travel about 100,000 miles a year producing seminars. I love to teach and help people be more successful. I do about 30 seminars a year and I’m still having too much fun to quit," he says.
Kanten, married for 20 years and divorced for 10, has two grown children. Son Christopher, 24, recently graduated from the U of U in biomedical engineering. Daughter Bethany, 22, is a senior at Harvard and will graduate in electrical engineering next spring. Though comfortably single, he admits he’s always on the lookout for "a good woman with a sense of humor."
Aside from the obvious, Kanten insists the word "God" is also an acronym for the "Great Out Doors." He continues to pursue his passions when he’s not traveling. "I still ski about 70 days a year and I try to ride my bike, hike or go fly fishing almost every day in the summer."
The veteran Parkite enjoys volunteering at the Egyptian Theatre and the Deer Valley summer concert series. "I’ve always been an athletic and outdoor person and everything I’ve done has been in that environment. Volunteering at the Egyptian and Deer Valley gets me around a whole new group of people, a whole new way of thinking and I really like that. It gets me out of the house and exposed to new people and entertainment," he says.
Kanten is bullish about his longtime Utah mountain home. "Everyone who lives here should get outside every day and enjoy this wonderful part of the world. For me, to live in a place like Park City and do what I love to do is just ideal."
Favorite activities: Ski, hike, bicycle, fish, attend outdoor concerts
Favorite foods: "Spicy Italian seafood and any fresh fish that I just caught."
Favorite reading: Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Scientific American and professional journals
Favorite music: Anything live
Bucket list: More bicycling and fishing in new places
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